Joseph Ash from D Company, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Battalion ACF, says: "If I hadn’t joined the ACF I would probably be the same bored and shy teenager I was at the age of 12 but five years later I have represented my battalion and given a presentation to members of the Scottish Parliament.”
Joseph is planning to train as a secondary school teacher and credits the skills he has learnt in cadets with preparing him for life in the classroom.
Aged 12, Joseph was looking for an organisation where he could make friends and be more sociable. Five years on he has studied for a number of qualifications, has reached the Army Proficiency Certificate (APC) 4 star level and has received the best student award in the Senior Student Instructors cadre. He has represented his battalion (in England and Scotland) for the Signals team and the battalion first aid team and (as a member of the ACF Scotland PR team) has given presentations at Edinburgh Castle and to members and ministers of the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
“The ACF creates an environment in which all skills are achievable and up for grabs. Both ACF adults and cadets encourage you to do things that you may feel you couldn’t possibly do. By telling you what your strengths and weaknesses are they help develop your confidence."
Through his dedication and enthusiasm to the ACF, Joseph has grown in confidence and is more outgoing. So much so that it inspired his father, Joe Ash to join as an adult instructor.
Joseph (left) and his father Joe Ash
“The ACF creates an environment in which all skills are achievable and up for grabs. Both ACF adults and cadets encourage you to do things that you may feel you couldn’t possibly do. By telling you what your strengths and weaknesses are they help develop your confidence.
“My friends and family have seen a real change in me since I joined the ACF. I am more open and confident in doing things outside of cadets, amateur theatre and my schoolwork. They can see that I am more organised and have developed a concentrated work ethic when preparing for exams.
“I have gained more friends in the ACF than I have ever imagined. I have gained great levels of confidence in working with others and talking to members of the public and developed a great sense of both individual work and collective teamwork. I have learned to work as a team leader and to effectively work as part of a team as well.
“It’s extraordinary how so many people from different backgrounds and at varying progression levels in the ACF can become brilliant friends. When I was at Annual Camp I was directing the Ypres 2 star Company and I didn’t think being their senior cadet for two weeks would mean I would make new friendships but they were brilliant cadets and we all keep in touch.
“My favourite activities are Drill, PR (Public Relations) and Signals. The reason why Drill is one of my favourite activities is that I love the development of precision, concentration and skill you learn and I now control a squad on parade.
“Signals is great because it is a real challenge to try to decipher codes and control radio telecommunications. I love the more academic side of the ACF syllabus as I feel that I perform best when I am taking part in academic activities.
“I also love PR because it allows me to tell people of my experiences, meet cadets from all over the country and promote the values and standards of the ACF to other people who work in education and politics amongst others. I have had the opportunities to compete and represent my battalion all over the United Kingdom and internationally. One of my proudest moments was during the Battalion Battlefield Tour 2014 when I was chosen to have the honour to lay the wreath at the Highlanders memorial in Belgium. It was such a proud and memorable moment for me.
“Developing in confidence, being dedicated, learning timing, precision, individual and collective thinking and organisation has helped me with preparation for exams and developing my skills for University. The ACF gives you the chance to show your real potential no matter what your background is and we can represent our battalion and promote the values that the ACF has to other people. The ACF is the only youth organisation that delivers all of these incredible opportunities and you need to really embrace the full experience and be dedicated and enthusiastic to get the most out of your time here.”